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20 Quick and Easy Dinners You Can Cook With 20 Minutes

20 Quick and Easy Dinners You Can Cook With 20 Minutes

After long days at work or ferrying kids to and from play dates, activities and school, I seldom have the time or the energy to figure out dinner. I enjoy cooking for the family but with a never-ending to-do list, the last thing you want to be faced with is: “What’s for dinner?”

I often feel that I need an extra day to get through the week. However, when my daughter was born, I started doing weekly meal plans and it has helped me immensely to put healthy meals on the table — even on days when I was sleep deprived and exhausted. I shop accordingly and it takes the guesswork out of preparing weeknight dinners. I often do part of the preparation on weekends, such as chopping vegetables or making sauces which can be frozen or roasting a whole chicken to use through the week.

So, here are 20 of my favorite speedy, easy, delicious, healthy and child-friendly dinner recipes that I keep handy when planning meals:

1. White Chicken Chilli Soup

Delicious-White-Chicken-Chili-Recipe-on-lilluna.com-chili-soup

    With the weather turning colder, a steaming hot bowl of soup is just the comfort I need after a long, crazy day. Children  enjoy it, though you might want to leave out the green chilies if your family doesn’t like the heat. And what’s more, it’s a one pot recipe which means less washing up! That ticks all the boxes for me.

    2. Veggie Polenta Mini Pizza

    polenta-pizza-420

      This is even quicker if you have pre-made pesto at home. Add toppings of your choice and enjoy a healthy pizza dinner.

      3. 10 Minute Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas

      black bean and corn quessadillas

        I use whole wheat or corn tortillas for quesadillas. Then, I make the filling on a weekend and freeze batches for later use. You can substitute black beans for your preferred protein and add other veggies too. (Red pepper also works well.)

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        4. Easy Chicken and Couscous Skillet Dinner

        Easy-Chicken-and-Cous-Cous-Skillet-Dinner-00

          Couscous cooks quickly so it is a favorite staple of mine for weeknight meals. This recipe uses jumbo or Israeli couscous and rotisserie chicken. Or, you could simply use the leftovers from your Sunday roast.

          5. Tomato, Spinach & Feta Frittata

          tomatofritatta2

            This popular family breakfast or brunch makes a fantastic weeknight dinner option. The thought of salty feta and sweet, juicy tomatoes with the garlicky spinach makes my mouth water. And using a cast iron skillet means it’s a one-pan dish!

            6. Prawn And Spinach Spaghetti

            prawn and spinach spaghetti

              I love this recipe as I have most of these ingredients at home so it’s really handy towards the end of the week when my fridge is almost empty. I use whole-wheat spaghetti and frozen prawns in my version. And if I’ve run out of spinach I just substitute with fresh basil.

              7. Tuna and White Bean Pita

              white bean and tuna pitas

                This super low effort recipe is unbelievably easy. My 4-year-old can make this meal. It is a wholesome and tasty store cupboard recipe that your kids will savor. It involves no cooking, just opening a few cans and assembling your meal.

                8. Salmon Skewers with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

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                salmon_kebabs_07

                  Salmon and cucumber are a classic combination. This recipe can be served with any grain of your choice or a simple salad that you whip up while the salmon is cooking. You can also add some veggies to the skewers.

                  9. Singapore Fried Rice

                  singapore fried rice

                    I love Asian food and this quick fried rice has become a staple in my house because it’s a meal by itself. I usually have cooked leftover rice in the fridge so this is really a quick meal. You do need day old cold rice for it; otherwise, it’ll become soggy and sticky. You can also add leftover chicken or even bacon. Enjoy!

                    10. Super Quick Fish Curry

                    fish curry brown rice

                      Fish is my favorite for quick meals as it’s healthy and takes very little time to cook. I always have a jar of Thai curry paste and coconut milk lying around in my cupboard, so this is a no-brainer, really. You can substitute fish with a protein of your choice. The coconut milk makes it mildly spicy but adds less paste if you want it milder.

                      11. Shells & Cheese (with Bacon & Peas)

                      bacon and peas

                        Children relish Mac and cheese. But on a school night, who has the time to make a batch from scratch? Here is a cheat’s version — no roux, no baking, just pasta in cheese sauce. I add garlic to mine and use low-fat milk and skip the butter. Also, I use whatever cheese I have on hand and whole-wheat pasta — but go ahead and indulge if you like.

                        12. Vegan Sweet Pepper and Mushroom Soba Noodle Stir Fry

                        vegan-sweet-pepper-mushroom-soba-noodle-stir-fry-close

                          I like to have a vegetarian dinner at least twice a week but feel free to add meat of your choice to it. You can use any vegetables you have for this recipe. In fact, it’s a great way to use up vegetables at the end of the week. Leave out the Sambal Olek (spicy chili sauce) if you don’t like spice.

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                          13. Simple Yet Scrumptious Rice And Salmon Pilaf

                          salmon-rice-pilaf

                            I use brown basmati for this recipe and cook it by the absorption method. Many people find cooking rice difficult, but it’s not tough. Remember different varieties of rice need different amounts of water to cook.  For instance, brown rice needs more water than white rice. Use measuring cups and with a little practice you’ll be an expert soon.

                            14. 15 Minute Lasagna

                            20 mins meals1

                              Yes indeed! 15 minutes only. With a few clever shortcuts and all in one pan, dinner is served. Isn’t that just perfect?

                              15. Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

                              chicken_caesar_salad_wraps

                                I love tortilla wraps because they are so versatile. I use wholemeal tortillas to make these light yet filling wraps. My child loves these for lunch or dinner so this is my “go-to” recipe — especially when we have roast chicken leftovers.

                                16. Arugula Lentil Salad from Heaven (Vegan)

                                arugula-lentil-salad

                                  I love peppery Arugula (rocket). This healthy recipe combines lentils, nuts and rocket in a delightful salad. Add raisins or sultanas if you wish.

                                  17. 20-Minute Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup

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                                  20-Minute-Cheesy-Chicken-Enchilada-Soup-6

                                    Nothing beats a warm, creamy, spicy soup on a chilly evening. You can use a ready-made enchilada sauce for this recipe, but I recommend you make one on the weekend and have it ready in the fridge when you fancy some soup. The key to quick meals on weeknights is in planning meals and some simple prep. It really doesn’t require much time on the weekend as cooking and freezing full meals, but will make your life much easier.

                                    18. One-Pan Veggie Fajita Pasta

                                    fajita pasta

                                      We adore fajitas and as I set about making some one evening, I realized the tortillas had gone stale. I had everything prepped already and a quick online search landed me this delightful recipe with pasta instead. Saved by google again! Since then it’s part of our family meals. I use whole-wheat pasta. It’s seriously yummy!

                                      19. Easy 20-Minute Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli

                                      teriyaki-chicken-broccoli-tablefortwoblog-5

                                        This is a yummy teriyaki sauce recipe. This is a winning combination but by all means feel free to swap the chicken for other protein of your choice and broccoli with your favorite vegetable. Serve it with brown and wild rice or red rice or a combination of the three for a wholesome meal.

                                        20. Sweet Potato Kale and Quinoa Fritters

                                        Kale-Sweetpotatoe-and-Quinoa-Fritters_platter-ready-to-eat1

                                          Loaded with the goodness of kale, quinoa and sweet potato, this recipe is a great way to sneak these super foods into your little ones. Serve with a simple green salad for dinner.

                                          Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanasek via picjumbo.com

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                                          Last Updated on September 18, 2020

                                          7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                                          7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                                          Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

                                          Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

                                          1. Exercise Daily

                                          It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

                                          If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

                                          Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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                                          If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

                                          2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

                                          Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

                                          One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

                                          This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

                                          3. Acknowledge Your Limits

                                          Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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                                          Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

                                          Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

                                          4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

                                          Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

                                          The basic nutritional advice includes:

                                          • Eat unprocessed foods
                                          • Eat more veggies
                                          • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
                                          • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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                                          Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

                                            5. Watch Out for Travel

                                            Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

                                            This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

                                            If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

                                            6. Start Slow

                                            Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

                                            If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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                                            7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

                                            Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

                                            My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

                                            If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

                                            I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

                                            Final Thoughts

                                            Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

                                            Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

                                            More Tips on Getting in Shape

                                            Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

                                            Reference

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